No one would deny that the House of Commons is a busy place and that MPs have a lot of business to attend to each day. But one would expect them to at least remember to attend debates that they arranged themselves.

The Conservative MP for Crawley, Henry Smith, failed to show for his own adjournment debate on air passenger duty. The MP, whose constituency includes Gatwick Airport, was sighted huffing and puffing through Commons corridors yesterday evening but arrived at the chamber moments too late.

Given the efforts of airport lobbyists to prepare case studies for the session — not to mention the large sums expended in Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester during conference season — we suspect they might not be too happy with him.

But perhaps Smith’s activities earlier in the day could provide some explanation. The honourable member had already enjoyed one moment in the spotlight yesterday, delighting the right-wing of his party by invoking the research efforts of the, err, TaxPayers’ Alliance during PMQs.

Was he overcome with the success of his patsy question such that he simply forgot his commitments for the evening?

  1. How about more sarcasm, like “by invoking the research efforts of the infamously un-self-interested Tax Payers Alliance.”

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